Sunday, June 27, 2021

These United States

It's always seemed to me that the hip thing in travel is to travel abroad -- to go to places that none of your friends have been to and have a dalliance with someone who speaks another language and who is incredible-looking. And tan.

When I was young, though, my dad said something about how big and amazing the United States is. He told me there was so much of our own country to see and that most Americans will never see it all. I'm sure his perspective had something to do with the fact that he was scared of flying over the ocean, but also, I think my dad sort of . . . resented the fact that most people don't explore their own backyards, so to speak. "Resented" may be too strong a word, and maybe it was more like sadness. I think he was proud of America. Having been born on the heels of World War II and served in the Marine Corp in his twenties, he fits the bill of a proud American. But . . . He also has the personality of a man who understands that the most important travel is in the mind. Perhaps he knew he wasn't destined to do anything grand, and he knew that most people in this world aren't either. He knew that he could learn what he needed to learn through reading and being well-informed and that if he had the chance, he could at least explore his own country in small doses. As a result, he traveled to all 50 states over the course of his lifetime, and I think he loves the rolling plains of Oklahoma as much as he loves the mountains of Idaho. He loves that this country has a little bit of everything: beaches, forests, flatlands, desert, mountains, and valleys; small towns with mom-and-pop shops and big cities with sidewalks for miles. He definitely instilled a love of American geography in me, and I'm happy to say that at almost 40, I've visited about 75% of the states. (That's 11 more states than the last time I checked! See Adventurous.)

To be sure, I think international travel is great; I just like that my dad liked America and wanted to see all of it. I want to see all of it, too. It's a beautiful country.

Thing I'm thankful for: my papa bear


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